More on the ‘no-plan Plan’

Okay. Seems there are indeed times when I have to accept that, yes, it is 3am, and I have indeed been woken up by an idea that isn’t going to let me sleep until I’ve written it down. Oh well. So best just get on with it, I guess.

In a comment to my earlier post ‘Making plans, sort-of‘, Robert Phipps asked:

even though you do not have a plan, […], you probably have a few themes […] that will feature regularly, and although we can probably infer some from the tone of recent posts and discussions, perhaps you could offer a kind of ‘version 0.1 cut’ of your new programme. Is it still recognisably EA ?

To answer the last part first:

  • Yes, it’s all enterprise-architecture

Whether it’s ‘recognisably EA’ is probably another question entirely… – depends on who’s doing the ‘recognising’, I guess? 🙂 Main point is that it does seem to be about a much larger scope and scale than most current ‘enterprise’-architectures: a ‘really-big-picture enterprise-architecture’, if you like.

But yes, there do also seem to be some distinct themes in there. I’ll summarise them here, and then expand on them in separate posts, so that this one doesn’t get too long (and also so I might be able to get back to sleep, too…).

Quickest overall summary, to paraphrase an old Heineken advert, is that “it’s about the parts that other enterprise-architectures cannot reach”. 🙂 (Probably it’d be more accurate to say that it’s more “the parts that other ‘enterprise’-architectures don’t reach”, and I don’t know why they don’t reach them, but there ’tis.)

  • It’s about the ‘why’ of architecture

Almost all of the current architectures seem to focus on structure, on the ‘How’ and ‘With-What’. In Zachman terms, they also seem to focus almost exclusively on row-3 (‘Logical Model’) and row-4 (‘Physical Model’) with occasional forays up to row-2 (‘Business Model’), but that’s about it. What I want to know about is what happens in the ‘why’ above that, the reasons behind the architecture in the first place – all the stuff that goes on in row-2, row-1, the row-0 that I had to add to understand the idea of ‘the enterprise’, and the row-00 that I seem to be adding now for the ‘really-big-picture’ of where ‘the enterprise’ comes from in the first place. There’s also a strong cross-link there with an emphasis on effectiveness – rather than solely on ‘efficiency’, as in too much of current architecture-work.

  • It’s about architecture-as-story

A theme that’s come up a lot for me over the past few years is on ‘the enterprise as story‘. It’s picked up even more momentum since finding building-architect Matthew Frederick’s ‘two points of view‘ about architecture, one of which was the regular view of architecture as ‘an exercise in structure’, but the other of architecture as ‘an exercise in narrative’. Story also seems to be linked both to the exploration of the ‘why’ of the architecture, and the active, living, expression of that ‘why’. Beyond that, I just know that it feels important, so keep following that thread and see where it leads.

  • It’s about the architecture-as-change

In part this is what I’ve called the ‘business-anarchist‘ theme, but again it’s very tightly linked to that question of ‘why’ in an enterprise-architecture. It’s also strongly associated with the theme that way too many people still seem to avoid, namely the sense-making / decision-making space that in the SCCC-categorisation is described as the Chaotic-domain. I suspect that there’s a huge breakthrough in there somewhere, on the scale that Taylorism was back at the start of the last century, and which we’re sort of skirting around with ‘design-thinking’ and the like. Dunno quite what it is, but I can sense the general shape of it in there somewhere, and also that it’s definitely important.

  • It’s about the dynamics of architecture

This one will still take quite a bit of further exploration and explanation, but it seems to be about how we move between those different sense-making / decision-making domains. It’s also about designing for change – which is going to be kinda important as we head into what’s clearly going to be a period of massive change – and also about breaking free of the dead weight of some frankly daft ideas such as ‘future state’ of an architecture.

  • It’s about people in relation to architecture

This is another screamingly-obvious gap in most current ‘enterprise’-architectures: people barely come into the picture at all. Since one of the core definitions of ‘enterprise’ is that it’s all about people and people’s choices and people’s needs – “the animal spirits of the entrepreneur” – it does seem like it’s kind of an important omission, wouldn’t you think? I’ll freely admit I’m not much of a ‘people-person’, but someone has to address this point in enterprise-architectures, and since this obviously links up very strongly with all of the other themes, it may as well be me… 🙂

Enough to answer that ‘no-plan Plan’ question for now, I hope? – more detail to follow on each of these themes, anyway.

So can I go back to sleep, please? 😐 🙂

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